TRANSPORT chiefs have been accused of leaving elderly travellers behind after they adopted a new bus information strategy that prioritises online information about timetables.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee yesterday recommended approving the strategy which sets out how information about bus services will provided in the future.

As part of a drive to increase bus use, the strategy document says “a new generation of customers need to be attracted to use public transport and information” and to do this “one of the key components to attract new users [is] through the provision of dynamic ‘always-live’ information via a range of channels that makes public transport the obvious choice”.

The report says the West Yorkshire Tracker survey has shown that more people than ever before own a smartphone and use it to access internet content – in West Yorkshire all respondents to the survey aged 16-44 had access to a mobile phone and about 95% had internet access via a mobile phone.

Bus campaigner Paul Kirby said most older people do not have regular access to the internet.

He said: “This strategy does not state whether maps will continue to be printed, something that is definitely within their remit.

“One thing, however, is clear – they want to stop printing timetables. So it is up to the bus companies to print their own, like Transdev currently do because Metro’s were so dull.

“Will First West Yorkshire bus company print them and will Metro display them at bus stations?

“It is clear that Metro want to exclude many people over 44 from accessing information with their ‘Digital First’ objective. They expect us all to have computers and fully charged smartphones to find basic information.

“They want everyone to use their machines at bus stations and no doubt employ less staff to help new passengers and visitors. How can a machine explain which day ticket would be best to buy? It can’t.”

Dave Pearson, director of Transport Services for WYCA, said: "It doesn't necessarily mean that we don't have other methods for people who don't do digital but we are some putting some effort into investing in that because that's what the market research is telling us."

Cllr Taj Salam (Lab, Little Horton) said that real-time information was the issue that people were complaining about.

He said: "What they're saying is that they could be stood at the bus station, the bus doesn't turn up, but they don't know why it hasn't turned up. If you look at the real time, all it says is 'The bus will arrive in four minutes'. And then all of a sudden it just disappears and then the next bus arrives in 20 minutes."

"There is no further information on there as to why. The second bus could also be delayed, and the third bus could be delayed if the road is closed off for one thing or another. So the up-to-date information is the one that people are most complaining about and are looking at getting that information first-hand straight away."

Cllr Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) said: "If we don't get young people engaged in public transport then they're going to resort to cars and we end up with bad air quality and congestion."